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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Making The Purchase ]

Other "Extras"

"You want fries with that?"
-- Unofficial motto of the fast-food industry.

Some companies will encourage you to buy "extras" at the time that you place your order. Whether it is at the cash register, on the phone, or at the web site "checkout" page, the general concept is the same. Based on your selections, the salesperson (or a computer program) determines what other items might interest you. The items offered may be related to the items you are buying, or may be chosen because you fit a certain "buyer profile". Or there may be some items that the company is just promoting to all their customers at a particular time.

Companies try to sell extras at the time of sale for a simple reason: it works. Many customers, even ones that normally are cautious about buying, allow themselves to be convinced to buy at the time of the purchase. Perhaps it is because the items are targeted to the buyer, or maybe it is the subtle art of persuasion. In any event, sometimes these purchases turn out to be a good move, but often do not.

In my experience, it makes sense most of the time to resist the "extras" that are suggested at the time you order, depending on how they are offered. If it is someone you have a long-term relationship with, you should probably carefully consider what is being offered, because the salesperson may be trying to save you from finding out down the road that there's an accessory you really need. But if it is someone you don't know, they are probably just pushing items based on a formula.

Extended warranties are one of the most commonly offered "extras" at the time of a hardware purchase, especially in retail stores. As I discuss in detail here, these are usually not a good value, and except for special circumstances, I don't recommend them.

Whatever you do, don't let yourself feel pressured to buy something if you don't feel comfortable with it. Sometimes the items being suggested are ones you may legitimately want, but most people don't like being put "on the spot" to make a quick decision on something that they just found out about. (I certainly don't.) Don't make an impulsive decision if you are uncomfortable. After all, you can always order the item later on, after you have had time to decide if it is something that you really want. (And if the salesperson is pressuring you to buy immediately by saying it is an offer good "only at the time of purchase" for a "limited time", then that should tell you right there that this person is likely not looking out for your best interests with his or her suggestions.)

Next: Vendor and Order Problems and Solutions

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